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Small business ‘brain drain’ as 1 in 5 employees quit

Employees appreciate benefits more than employers think

Small businesses are suffering a staff brain drain with nearly one in five workers quitting each year to get new jobs, blaming poor employee benefits, research from new online provider Pure Benefits shows.

The study by Pure Benefits, a service that helps firms employing up to 50 staff to buy benefits quickly and efficiently, found 18% of staff – around 450,000 a year – have switched in the past five years, saying a lack of benefits was a major reason.

Small businesses with fewer than 50 staff employ more than 12.4 million people across the UK and have total annual turnover of more than £1.2 trillion but struggle to source employee benefits such as life insurance, income protection and private medical insurance for staff.

The research found 63% of small business owners are confused by the employee benefits options on offer and don’t know how to find cost-effective solutions for staff. More than a fifth of owners (22%) say they do not offer any benefits.

Stuart Gray, founder and chairman of Pure Benefits says: “The small business brain drain is a growing issue for small companies, with nearly one in five staff leaving every year simply because they are not receiving the benefits the big firms provide.

“That is a major brake on the ambitions of small business owners, who our research shows are committed to expansion. Around 80% of companies told us they want to grow, while 47% say they want to protect their business.

“Well-designed and cost-effective employee benefits are a major driver in enabling businesses to grow and ensure staff feel valued and are more productive as a result.”

The table below shows the benefits on offer at firms employing up to 50 staff.

Benefit Five to 25 staff 25 to 49 staff
Pension 72% 77%
Income protection 18.6% 20%
Critical illness 14% 17%
Life insurance 21% 34%
Private medical insurance 23% 23%
Dental cover 16% 20%
Childcare vouchers 30% 43%
Tax-free bikes 23% 20%
Discounted shopping portal 16% 20%